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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/284

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Dryden was not referring to the adherents of any evolutionist philosophy when he wrote:

"In lusts we wallow, and with pride we swell,
And injuries with injuries repel;
Prompt to revenge, not daring to forgive,
Our lives unteach the doctrine we believe."

"Not daring to forgive" is good, and nearly as true in the nineteenth century as it was in the seventeenth. The one English statesman who dared to forgive a defeat inflicted on English arms and to acknowledge an error, incurred by that single act a deeper hatred and contempt than he earned by anything else, or all else, in his long and storm-tossed career. We refer to the action taken by Gladstone after the battle of Majuba Hill. And we are much mistaken if the majority of those who execrated him most deeply for not crushing the Boers under England's overwhelming force were not immense admirers of the cardinal's hymn. What is certain is that they were not immense admirers of Spencer, and that Spencer did not immensely admire them.

Superintendent Smith has quoted Emerson, but he does not occupy the standpoint that enables him to see Emerson in true perspective, or to feel what his philosophy lacks when confronted with the newer knowledge of the century. Mr. J. J. Chapman, in his recent memorable book of essays, gives us a better view. "A critic in the modern sense," Mr. Chapman says, "he (Emerson) was not. He lived too early and at too great a distance from the forum of European thought to absorb the ideas of evolution, and give place to them in his philosophy. . . . We miss in Emerson the underlying conception of growth, of development, so characteristic of the thought of our own day, and which, for instance, is found everywhere latent in Browning's poetry. . . . He is probably the last great writer to look at life from a stationary standpoint."

That the doctrine of evolution constitutes to-day a most important guiding principle in education no competent educationist could be found to deny. It teaches us to deal with the young as in a very true sense the heirs of all the ages, to make due allowance in childhood for instincts and habits which partake of the earlier stages of human development, and to look forward with confidence to later and higher manifestations. We have less faith than our ancestors had in the rod, and more in the gradual unfolding of the powers and capacities of the mind, and therewith the enlargement and improvement of the moral nature. We do not believe as our forefathers did in breaking children's wills; nor do we view their peccadilloes in the lurid light of a gloomy theological creed. We recognize that veracity, in the sense of strict accuracy of speech, purged of all imaginative elements, is a virtue which not all adults are able to practice, and which is not a natural product of the child mind. We can not accept Emerson's doctrine of infant Messiahs, and yet we can recognize very fully the mission of the child in the home, the demand it makes for tenderness, for patience, for thoughtfulness on the part of parents, the hopes and fears and heart-searchings that it calls into play, the aspirations that it promotes toward the realization, if for its sake only, of a higher life. Froebel grasped a large measure of truth in regard to children, but too much of sentiment, in our opinion, entered into his treatment of them. In the full light of the doctrine of evolution we take them as they are, and help them to work out under favorable conditions that development of which they are capable. We are not imposed upon by childish imitations of